A Lost Generation: The Situation of Young People in Spain

03 Sara Rodriguez Arias_largeby Sara Rodríguez Arias

The Lost Generation: a term popularized by Ernest Hemingway during World War I for expatriates born between 1883 and 1900. 

In Europe, but mostly in Italy and Spain, the consequences of the economic recession are becoming very hard on its citizens. This is also the case where I live on the Canary Islands. Young people who have finished their studies and the older population are flying away from our country because it does not offer them jobs and, in case they do offer something, they are not qualified.

The image I designed is a Star because I think that if we stay together, we can change the world. We need a new form of government in Spain and Europe, not what I am reading every day in newspapers. If we really do something in order to change this situation, I think we can be a star and shine like never before.

What road should young people take once they finish their studies?

Working in another country – or in the case that they are lucky enough to work for a business, create their own business or do something related to their career – many are paid a low income and work for many hours. To me, this is like being a slave to the system. This is not only the situation for young people in Spain but also for the older population. The government has reduced the amount of money they give to people who have worked their entire lives. They have even established many “pathetic” laws so that they can be the winners, thanks to the work of citizens. This makes me wonder if there is equality in a world where human rights barely exist. The economic recession Spain is experiencing today started some years ago due to several problems related to bad politics. This financial crisis has led many people to travel abroad in order to find a job, start a new life in a different place than where they were born and most of all, to forget about the problems and the actual situation that Spain and Canary Islands are facing at this moment. 

How were we before the economic recession?

Before the economic recession, we were doing quite well or at least we were better off than we are right now. Young people left their studies in order to work, especially in the sector of construction, building houses and other kind of jobs which do not require studies. Therefore, they became independent at an early age, formed families and had comfortable and classy lives. During this age, we did not have to face many changes related to numerous laws within the spheres of education, pregnancy, security, health etc.  We could live happily without any kind of problem. But the system was not hard enough on its citizens – everybody was spending money, not saving it. 

How do we live in the times of economic recession?

In times of the economic recession, we are living during a disastrous moment. On the one hand, there is the inefficiency of the actual government in Spain. I, as citizen, feel disappointed because many people are living in poverty and in need of charity. For this reason, I try not to read newspapers or watch the news on TV because I feel sad and sometimes bad-tempered. Young people are going abroad and making new lives in other countries. It is very sad that many of them cannot see their families because they live very far away. Some of these citizens come back to Spain to see their dearest family after spending many years abroad. Apart from this, the government is reducing the income of every citizen and often changing the laws.  These laws include: harder exams for young students, increasing the cost of medicine, privatising universities, requiring high marks for university admission and increasing the price of food, clothes and all kind of items that you can imagine. 

How is the situation in Spain seen across the world?

When I ask my friends across Europe how they view Spain, the first thought that comes to their minds is:  "I have read news about Spain in newspapers". However, many of them are not aware of the real situation in Spain since the president of Spain tells the citizens that we are not in the worst of times and, when he meets with presidents from other countries, he says that we are recovering from the economic recession. Both of which are not at all true. In Spain, we were experiencing hard times, we receive help from Europe and, moreover, the government has made a lot of legislative changes. Many of these hard changes have impoverished a part of our country. The situation is so bad that many people are committing suicide because of unpaid debts. And finally, when we were experiencing good times, some people spent their money instead of saving it for a situation like this one. 

Can online learning help increase the chances for getting a good job?

Since education is becoming more expensive due to privatisation, we need a new form of education – one in which all citizens have the same right and access to education. How? Education should be free or subject to a low fee. To me, online learning not only provides me with knowledge about particular subjects I am interested in but it also helps me establish contact with other people across the globe. Normally, those who enrol in online courses are responsible people and want to know more about a particular subject. At the same time, they increase their skills and therefore have better chances finding good jobs. As we are in economic recession, citizens in Spain are studying and being trained in skills they need, but many of them have a low income and cannot afford to pay lots of money in order to get a degree. For this reason, it is important to access or create online learning platforms like: iversity, Coursera, OpenLearning, etc.